20 Worst Individual Performances in Super Bowl History
Worst Individual Super Bowl Performances of All Time
Every year some players come up huge in the Super Bowl to lead their team to the ultimate prize in the NFL. At the same time, a number of athletes save their worst for the big stage and live in infamy after failing in front of such a large and captive audience. We're not talking about just bad, but the worst performances you could imagine, especially considering what's on the line.
Determining a player's impact and how bad he played often lies in the eye of the beholder. Some statistics speak for themselves, but one must also consider the impact a negative play has on the team and the game itself. Most of the time it's the quarterback who ends up being the hero or the goat, because he can have the greatest impact from start to finish. Interceptions, poor game management and taking sacks all can fall at the feet of the man who stands in the pocket.
On the flip side, it's often difficult to single out a defensive player for a poor performance as so much of what happens is centered around the unit as a whole. Three defensive players did crack the top 20 (or bottom 20) here for two different but similar reasons.
As the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks prepare for Super Bowl XLVIII, they are planning on perfect execution, intelligent in-game adjustments and a hard-fought battle to victory. Everyone on this list felt the same way, but it didn't quite work out for them. Take a trip back in time to recall or discover the 20 worst individual performances in Super Bowl history.
20. Drew Bledsoe, Super Bowl XXXI
Though he threw for 253 and a pair of touchdowns, Drew Bledsoe was just 25-for-48 (53 percent) and tossed four interceptions in the New England Patriots’ 35-21 loss. His second-quarter pick was followed by a touchdown drive that put the Patriots down 13 points at the half. Then, his two fourth-quarter interceptions put the nails in the coffin.
19. Stanley Richard, Super Bowl XXIX
The back of Stanley Richard’s jersey and his missed tackles were common in the San Francisco 49ers’ drubbing of the San Diego Chargers, 49-26. Steve Young carved up the middle of the field, where Richard normally resided, for a Super Bowl record six touchdown passes. Richard was the main culprit, including the image above where Ricky Waters went 51 yards for a score after Richard’s whiff.
18. Ron Jaworski, Super Bowl XV
Ron Jaworski sure can break down film, but he was awful in his only Super Bowl appearance. His first pass, the third play from scrimmage, was intercepted and set up an Oakland Raiders’ touchdown. He would finish 18-for-38 (47 percent) with three picks and a lost fumble in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 27-10 defeat.
17. Jim Kelly, Super Bowl XXVII
Before leaving with a knee injury, Jim Kelly went 4-for-7 for 82 yards, two interceptions and a fumble. Kelly’s first interception set up the Dallas Cowboys’ first touchdown to tie the game at seven. On the Buffalo Bills’ next play from scrimmage, Kelly was sacked and coughed up the football. The Cowboys took the fumble in for a touchdown to go up 14-7, and never looked back in a 52-17 pasting.
16. Johnny Unitas, Super Bowl V
His team somehow won the contest, but Johnny Unitas was a shell of his former self as he was knocked out of the game. Take away his 75-yard touchdown pass -- a horrible throw that was deflected twice and caught -- and Unitas went 2-for-8 for 13 yards, two interceptions and a fumble. The fumble led to Dallas’ only touchdown, while Earl Morrall led the Baltimore Colts to a 16-13 victory.
15. Lewis Billups, Super Bowl XXIII
Lewis Billups and the Cincinnati Bengals' secondary gave up a Super Bowl record 215 receiving yards to the San Francisco 49ers' Jerry Rice. The turning point came with the Bengals leading 13-6 late in the third quarter as Joe Montana's horrible pass into the end zone hit Billups right in the hands. He dropped it, Rice scored on the next play and the 49ers took home the title with a 20-16 win that never should have happened.
14. Jim Kelly, Super Bowl XXVI
The Buffalo Bills had Jim Kelly throw a Super Bowl record 58 passes, but he completed less than 50 percent and threw four interceptions in the process. Kelly also lost a fumble in the game and his five turnovers led to 20 points for the Washington Redskins. As a cap to his woes, Kelly added minus-eight receiving yards as he lost his second straight Super Bowl, this time 37-24.
13. Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, Super Bowl I
Cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs, Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, talked a lot of trash before Super Bowl I, saying he would shut down the Green Bay Packers' receivers. Instead, Max McGee and Carroll Dale combined for 11 catches, 197 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-10 trouncing. Williamson was credited with three tackles, but he was knocked out of the game and carried off on a stretcher.
12. Neil O'Donnell, Super Bowl XXX
His overall numbers aren't as ugly as the rest on this list, but Neil O'Donnell tossed a pair of awful interceptions that sealed the Pittsburgh Steelers' fate. Down 13-7 in the third, O'Donnell threw a pass directly to Larry Brown, and there were no Steelers in sight. The Dallas Cowboys found the end zone two plays later. In the fourth quarter, down by three, he again hit Brown who returned the pick to the six-yard line to set up another touchdown and give Dallas the 27-17 victory.
11. Ben Roethlisberger, Super Bowl XL
Another Steelers quarterback makes the list, though Ben Roethlisberger actually get credit for the win. Despite going 9-for-21 for 123 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns, the Steelers' defense shut down the Seattle Seahawks. Roethlisberger posted a 22.6 passer rating, easily the lowest for a winning quarterback. His third-quarter interception at the Seahawks' seven-yard line, leading 14-3, was returned 76 yards to set up Seattle's only touchdown.
10. Thurman Thomas, Super Bowl XXVIII
Though it wasn't his worst statistical game, Thurman Thomas had a huge negative impact on the Bills' fourth Super Bowl defeat. He carried 16 times for an ugly 37 yards (2.3 yards per carry), but his two fumbles were killers, especially the one to open up the second half. With Buffalo moving the ball, Thomas coughed up the football and watched the Cowboys' James Washington scoop it up and race 48 yards to pay dirt. The Bills didn't score again as Dallas coasted to a 30-13 win.
9. Fran Tarkenton, Super Bowl IX
The Minnesota Vikings also had a habit of losing Super Bowls, and Fran Tarkenton was a big reason for this loss. Tarkenton was 11-for-26, passing for only 102 yards, three interceptions and zero touchdowns. The Vikings' offense was kept off the scoreboard by the Steelers, and Tarkenton was sacked for the first safety in Super Bowl history. Minnesota scored on a blocked punt, but the 16-6 defeat was Tarkenton's second straight in the big game.
8. John Elway, Super Bowl XXIV
The Denver Broncos, led by John Elway, were throttled 55-10 in the biggest blowout in Super Bowl history. Elway went 6-for-20 in the first half for just 64 yards as the 49ers jumped out to a 27-3 lead. He finished with 108 yards passing with two picks, zero touchdowns and a completion percentage of a putrid 38 percent. The loss was Elway's third in as many Super Bowl appearances.
7. Billy Kilmer, Super Bowl VII
Taking on the undefeated Miami Dolphins, Billy Kilmer couldn’t lead the offense to a single point. His second interception led to a Miami touchdown and a 14-0 Dolphins' lead. It was still 14-0 when Kilmer threw an unforgivable pick in the end zone near the end of the third quarter. That throw basically put to rest any chance the Redskins had to win the game. On the day, Kilmer went 14-of-28 for 104 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns in the 14-7 loss.
6. David Woodley, Super Bowl XVII
David Woodley was a bad quarterback to begin with, ending his career with 48 touchdowns and 63 interceptions. Early in the Super Bowl, he threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to give Miami a 7-0 lead. Other than that throw, Woodley went 3-for-13 for a minuscule 21 yards. He also lost a fumble in Redskins' territory in the first half and then threw an interception at the Washington five-yard line late in the third quarter. The Dolphins were trailing by just four points at the time and never could recover, losing 27-17.
5. Tony Eason, Super Bowl XX
Tony Eason may have been higher on the list, but he ended up not having much of an impact because he wasn't in the game. Eason is the only quarterback in Super Bowl history to fail to record a single pass. The New England Patriots' quarterback went 0-for-6, was sacked three times for minus-28 yards, lost a fumble and was pulled in the second quarter. It didn't matter, really, as the Chicago Bears forced six turnovers in destroying the Patriots, 46-10.
4. Earl Morrall, Super Bowl III
The Baltimore Colts' Earl Morrall won the MVP in 1968 after taking over for the injured Johnny Unitas before the season. Unitas returned, but they stuck with Morrall all the way to the Super Bowl. Despite being huge favorites over the New York Jets, Morrall went 6-for-17 for 71 yards with three interceptions and zero touchdowns. The worst throw was his errant pass to a wide open receiver in the end zone at the end of the first half. Unitas came in to relieve Morrall in the third quarter, but the New York Jets pulled off the upset, 16-7.
3. Rich Gannon, Super Bowl XXXVII
Another MVP in the regular season, Rich Gannon tossed a Super Bowl record five interceptions as the Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-21. The five picks were returned for a total of 172 yards with three of them taken to the house for touchdowns. The game got close late with the Raiders trailing by 13 with the ball. In a two-minute span in the fourth quarter, Gannon gift-wrapped a pair of those turnovers for touchdowns to put the game out of reach.
2. Kerry Collins, Super Bowl XXXV
The New York Giants' offense was kept off the scoreboard thanks in large part to Kerry Collins' ridiculously bad day: 15-for-39 (38 percent), 112 yards, four interceptions and no touchdowns. Collins averaged an unsightly 2.9 yards per attempt against the Baltimore Ravens' defense, and one of his four picks was returned for a score. A goose egg was spared only because of a kick return for a touchdown, making the score a less-embarrassing, 34-7 final.
1. Craig Morton, Super Bowl XII
When a guy completes the same amount of passes to both teams, that's a problem. Denver's Craig Morton completed four of his 15 passes for only 39 yards on the day. Even worse, he tossed four passes into the arms of the Cowboys' defense which were returned for 47 yards -- eight more than his own team. He was pulled early in the second half, but the damage was done. It was such a poor outing with horribly inaccurate passing (27 percent) that some of Morton's teammates wondered if he was throwing the game for gamblers. It was known that Morton had debt problems, but no evidence was ever presented to show he intentionally aided in the Broncos' 27-10 defeat.